It may not be the first topic you bring up at the dining room table, but there's no need to suffer in silence when it comes to period poops. There are thousands, if not millions, who share the experience – and don't pretend like you don't know what we're talking about – whether you get a runny tummy, cramping that's definitely not coming from your uterus, or days of constipation and the long-overdue relief of that mid-period mega poo, the majority of us are familiar with peculiar changes to our digestive systems around the time of our periods.
Society may be more tolerant on topics that have formerly been seen as taboo, but there are certain subjects that struggle to get the air time they deserve and period poops definitely fall under this category. Maybe they're too graphic or too earthy, but our motto at GLAMOUR HQ is that no topic is too taboo, especially when it comes to bodily functions.
To help break the taboo as well as answer any queries you may have, we asked Dr Alona Pulde, Health Advisory Board member for leading nutrition app Lifesum to answer every question you may have, from how do periods affect digestions, to how to alleviate symptoms.
Plus, with World Digestive Health Day taking place on 29th May, it's the perfect time to address common digestive concerns like period poops.
How do periods affect digestion?
As with so many changes to our bodies including acne, mood swings and hair loss, hormones are often the root cause, especially when it comes to digestive problems around the time of your period.
"Hormone fluctuations result in digestive changes before and during the menstrual cycle," explains Dr Pulde. "Progesterone increases after ovulation and with it symptoms of gas, bloating, and constipation prior to your period."
Luckily, these symptoms typically resolve once you begin bleeding when progesterone levels drop and prostaglandins are released. However, you may experience different digestive issues after this stage. "Prostagladins, which are hormone-like substances, can result in more frequent bowel movements and even diarrhoea lasting through the first few days of your period."
What are the best ways to alleviate symptoms?
The good news is that simple diet and lifestyle changes can help alleviate the digestive discomfort accompanying your menstrual cycle. "High fibre foods help keep you regular so increase your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes," recommends Dr Pulde.
Another simple lifestyle hack is to make sure you incorporate gentle exercise into your regime if you experience symptoms. "Physical movement helps with bowel movement so make sure to include physical activity into your daily routine."
Finally, Dr Pulde recommends avoiding certain trigger foods including foods high in salt, fat or sugar along with spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine and dairy that could make matters worse.
Want to delve deeper into your digestive habits? Here's what your poo says about your overall health. We've also investigated how to tell if your vaginal discharge is healthy, what to do if you have a spotty bottom that just won't go away, and the signs and symptoms of genital herpes everyone should be aware of. Happy reading!
This article was originally published on Glamour UK.